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Poster: grendelschoice Date: Oct 3, 2009 5:57pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Strangers stopping strangers just to shake their hand

Well, I consider myself a "middle" head , in that I saw my first show in 1979, just in time to catch Keith and Donna one last time before the Brent era started.

I stayed on the bus until 1994, seeing my last show in Highgate, VT. (Great time, lousy show.)

And that's just one remarkable thing about why i loved the Dead so much. I have a lot of '77 envy (i think that was their best year), and really envy those older heads who got to see what I consider the true glory years of 1972-1977....but even though I saw my vast majority of shows in what I consider musically the band's weakest period of 1985-1988 (outside of the '92-'95 end game)...I still NEVER had anything but an amazingly wonderful time at all the shows I went to. The friends, the vibe, the dancing, the (eh-hem...recreational extracurricular 'activities' ;-)...and of course, the music....all added up to an experience I will cherish til the end of my days.

I also got hooked by American Beauty..."Friend of the Devil" was the first Dead song I ever heard, and something in that country/folk/rock/americana feel instantly spoke to me...and from there it was like walking into the most astounding musical treasure trove, hidden away from mainstream view, but available to anyone willing to take the extra time to listen.

I'd never heard anything that sounded quite like Garcia's sweet, flowing, yet gritty and at time flat out growling guitar before and haven't since. Add in the meshing of the rest of the band's unique contributions and you end up with a mix truly apart from anything else.

Whenever I try to explain its lure I can't come up with anything as succinct as 1) the classic bumper sticker saying, which I think was originated by Bill Graham: "They're not the best at what they do...they're the only ones who do what they do", or 2) as Garcia himself once said: "The Grateful Dead are like licorice. Not everyone likes licorice, but the people who like licorice, REALLY like licorice."

I'll also just add that at that first concert I saw (Nassau Coliseum 1/11/79), just 14 years old and wide-eyed with awe...I can remember still the EXACT MOMENT that my brain really got exploded by this band...I had of course by then known the tune "Jack Straw", but only from the Europe '72 album...and back then the song was pretty mellow. That night in Nassau was the first time I ever heard how the Dead could open up a jam on a tune and bring it to places you didn't think music could really go...climb to heights of ecstacy that you didn't really think could be reached...by the time they crashed down into belting out "Jack Straw from Witchita cut his buddy down!", I was hooked like a large mouth bass on the sweetest worm he ever tasted...and I didn't even want to put up a fight.